MEREDITH WHITNEY FEARS BANK APOCALYPSE

A DIRE warning yesterday to the investment bankers of the world, as one of Wall Street’s most famous banking analysts, Meredith Whitney, called the apocalypse (Part II).

Whitney, a former Oppenheimer & Co analyst who now runs her own advisory firm, is one of the most dedicated bears in the business, having begun by betting that Citi would run out of cash to pay a dividend and coming out the other end to predict the next financial crisis.

Yesterday, the blonde bombshell of doom turned her laser vision on bank bonuses and investment banking job cuts, reiterating her forecast that 80,000 will be laid off on Wall Street alone (heaven knows how many she reckons will go worldwide) and that year-end bonuses are likely to “disappoint dramatically”.

Let’s hope, for once, that she’s barking up the wrong tree.

POKER FACE-OFF
To the exclusive Les Ambassadeurs club in Mayfair last night for a high-stakes poker evening attended by the great and the good of the gaming and business worlds.

Ladbrokes chief executive Richard Glynn, PKR founder Jez San, Irish tycoon Dermot Smurfit, restaurateur Antonio Carluccio, PR guru Matthew Freud, Trinity Mirror chief Sly Bailey and actress Barbara Windsor were all among the guests who flocked to the evening, which kicked off with a dinner and auction and later moved on to a poker tournament.

The evening managed to raise over £200,000 for “Raising the Stakes”, a charity fund set up by the gaming industry in aid of the Great Ormond Street Hospital. Prizes at the event included private cooking lessons with Carluccio himself, a trip to Vegas and poker lessons with legendary player Mike Sexton, and an ultra-VIP package to the final of the World Darts Championship (if that’s not a contradiction in terms).

SLEEK AND CHIC
Kudos for American commodities broker Greg Rellis, an employee at OTC Europe, who yesterday took first prize in a competition to find the best dressed banker in London, instigated by Savile Row tailor Cad and the Dandy.

The firm said it had received over 20,000 votes in the competition, in which Barclays’ incoming chief executive Bob Diamond took sixth place and Florent Gerard of Bank of America finished as runner-up.

Rellis (above) said his style inspiration was actor Cary Grant and championed a classic style, with a navy double-breasted pinstripe suit, double-cuffed white shirt and solid tie the cornerstones of his work wardrobe.

ALL ABOUT THE MONEY
A sleek black board game drops onto The Capitalist’s desk, claiming to be a financial version of the hugely popular world-domination game Risk.

The aim of “Billionaire Tycoon”, as the new game is known, is for players to build their global business empires as fast as possible, becoming the richest and most successful mogul of them all through acquiring, trading and selling businesses. City workers are likely to be a dab hand at it naturally, though if anyone wants any tips, the makers advise would-be billionaires to heed several points – including remembering that “you won’t win by being nice” and “in business there is nothing personal, it’s all about the money”.